"Zina, The Warrior Princess"? Not quite. Zina, the self-infatuated, whiny, bored daughter of Trotsky? Something like that. Who gives a s*** about the life and times of Trotsky's daughter, while she sits in a shrink's office (McKellen) and wonders why she isn't more central in her father's life? I certainly don't care.
First of all, the relevance of the life of a famous man's child is inversely proportional to the amount of blood that man has on his hands. Trotsky, "the ogre of Europe", has helped build the Red Army and gain power for the Commies, and is therefore both indirectly and directly jointly responsible for the millions of corpses floating in and around Siberia. Because of this why should we care about the mental instability of this man's daughter, and their relationshit? It doesn't make any sense to me. Her trivial little "problems" are mere dandruff compared to the suffering her daddy had helped inflict on the world. There is absolutely zilch reason to care about this woman and the father-daughter relationshit. The director felt that Zina's story was worth telling. But to whom? Perhaps to Trotsky's descendants on one of their annual family reunions, but to no one else, apart perhaps from the odd, bored historian who has nothing better to do after he has finished masturbating to his latest porno rent-out.
Secondly, Zina constantly seeks Trotsky's affection and attention, and she is frustrated that she doesn't receive it. Was this woman an idiot, or what?! How can she seriously expect a politician of that kind of prominence to put his family first. Is she upset that he never changed her diapers? He had no time - he was too busy forging out plans of how to butcher thousands of innocent people as quickly as possible - and diapers mostly stand in the way of such plans. And this brings me to another point: Zina actually expected tenderness, understanding, and what-not from a cold-blooded mass-murdering psychopath?! That'll happen! I can just picture what a marvelous father Hitler would have made; all love and compassion. Of course, Zina didn't see her father as a cold killer, but if that was really the case then she loses points on powers of observation. (Denial doesn't count here; denying who Trotsky was would be like experiencing an 8.9 earthquake and telling yourself it isn't happening.) Or was she kept in a box during the events of the Revolution and its aftermath years, so as not to notice what a degenerate daddy she had? She couldn't have been duped by the propaganda because she wasn't confined to Russia - she traveled all over Europe and she must have heard the more unflattering things about her daddy's unscrupulous ways. If she chose to ignore this information just because he was her daddy, well, then she was a selfish bitch. And if she was a spoilt, selfish, and self-centered bitch - which seems to be the case - then she really doesn't deserve to have her story told.
The film is excruciatingly slow. Pretty much your standard European product with pretentiousness paired with a persistent tendency to take one's sweet time with getting on with it. McKellen seems to stare into empty space most of the time, taking himself and his character far too seriously. Then he says something, and then more silence follows so that the viewer may have time to take in all the majestic power of the film's intellectual statement.
The actress playing the daughter is weak; the scenes in which she gets high-strung and emotional are played with blatant amateurishness. I have no idea why they gave her an accent (and anything but a Slavic-sounding accent), while Trotsky is played by a guy who spews out impeccable upper-class BBC English. Makes no sense. A very dumb line comes from McKellen in one of the very last moments of the movie; he says that "we cannot control what we take in subconsciously". A-duh! That's why it's called the subconscious! Of course you can't! How damn wise. How intellectual. How absolutely perceptive of this meaningless little Depression-Era shrink. The epilogue shows that this moron, after wisely fleeing from Germany in 1933 to Switzerland, decided to go to Russia later on! Am I being a wise-ass with the benefit of hindsight? No. Everyone was fleeing towards the West, except our wise, slow-talking shrink who chose Stalingrad of all places. (Okay, okay, that's easy to criticize with hindsight; there was no way he could have know what a dumb move that was.) Again: I don't care about the life of a mass-murderer's child. I want to see movies being made about the poor bastards that he slaughtered and their families. The world doesn't need to know about Zina's "inner turmoil". It's like flying to Mars, and then, after setting the first step, saying "I hope we can get to watch 'Roseanne' here...".